Former top Russian and European diplomats are asking their countries’ leaders to ramp up cooperation, not eschew it, to resolve a major rift over Ukraine.
Recalling “basic lessons of crisis-management learned during the Cold War,” the group of elder statesmen made their plea in a position paper released Thursday by the European Leadership Network and other think tanks.
Among the documents’ signatories are notable Russian figures, including former Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and the Kremlin’s foreign-intelligence chief, retired Gen. Vyacheslav Trubnikov. European signatories include past foreign and defense ministers of Poland, the United Kingdom, Spain and France.
Their paper comes as a conflict over Ukraine between Russia on the one side and Europe and the United States on the other threatens to spiral out of control. Western officials suspect Russia of propping up pro-Moscow separatists in the eastern part of the country, purposefully destabilizing Ukraine. Many Russians see the conflict as a must-win battle against Western efforts to encroach on their borders.
The recent downing in Ukrainian air space of a civilian passenger jet, which killed nearly 300, has further stoked tensions as a search for the perpetrators unfolds.
For starters, the position paper proposes that all sides emphasize restraint to their respective military chains of command. In addition, mechanisms for dispute resolution must be strengthened, the document recommends.
“The NATO-Russia Council has barely met since the crisis in Ukraine erupted,” the former officials lament. “E.U.-Russia crisis management arrangements also do not exist.”
They also warn that strictly unilateral measures, such as a Russian invasion into Ukraine or tough European sanctions against Moscow, likely would backfire rather than resolve the conflict.
What We're Following See More »
"Paul Manafort, who served as a top aide to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, on Tuesday provided congressional investigators notes he took during a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer that has emerged as a focus in the investigation of Russian interference in the election. Manafort’s submission, which came as he was interviewed in a closed session by staff members for the Senate Intelligence Committee, could offer a key contemporaneous account of the June 2016 session."
By the narrowest of margins, the Senate voted 51-50 this afternoon to begin debate on the House's legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins defected from the GOP, but Vice President Pence broke a tie. Sen. John McCain returned from brain surgery to cast his vote.
"Republicans who interviewed Jared Kushner for more than three hours in the House’s Russia probe on Tuesday said the president’s son-in-law and adviser came across as candid and cooperative. 'His answers were forthcoming and complete. He satisfied all my questions,' said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who’s leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign."